A man building a craft object out of cardboard

The Radical Reshaping of Craft

Over the past few years, many have pointed to the fact that craft seems to be “having a moment.” Whether it’s another major museum exhibition highlighting the overlooked role of craft in contemporary art, or TikTok popularizing an age-old technique, or universities developing new degrees in craft studies, there certainly seems to be a renewed interest in the handmade. Yet, over the course of the Modern era, craft has had many revivals—from Britain’s Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the American Studio Craft movement in the 1940s—and there are bound to be many more. 

How does craft aid in storytelling, myth-making, and nation building? What is the future of craft in light of the looming climate crisis? How do rapidly developing technologies inspire new ways of making and relating to materials and processes? Metropolis continues to tackle many of these questions. Here’s a look into what we’ve found so far.


During the COVID-19 lockdown, many artists and designers found themselves returning to crafts that can be done by hand with minimal materials and space requirements. Some found themselves taking up age-old techniques such as rug tufting, punch needle, and quilting, while others started hand-sewing their own clothing in support of the slow fashion movement.


From 3D-printed ceramics to sculptural knot-tying, these makers are pushing the limits of their craft to explore new forms, techniques, and communities.


The history of ceramics is intricately connected to the history of architecture. Whether it’s subway tile or bathroom tile, a terra cotta roof or a terra cotta planter, ceramics not only lend immense function to the built environment, but also fill spaces with color, texture, and a felt connection to the earth.


Craft has been “front and center” in many recent exhibitions, including those at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, The Brooklyn Museum, Crystal Bridges, among others. Gallerists and manufacturers have also shown a renewed interest in textiles’ powerful storytelling abilities. Here is a look at some of the highlights.

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